Posts Tagged ‘extreme marathons’


The Last Desert race

December 1, 2008

You may have picked up on blogs over the last week about some extreme marathons that happen around the world. So far we have talked about the Marathon des Sables in Morrocco, the North Pole Marathon – yes it is ON the North Polar icecap – and the Addo Elephant Trail runs in South Africa. Today we offer something slightly different – for a start this marathon is by invitation only and to qualify you must have competed in two of three other ultramarathons which take place every year in Chile, China and Egypt.

OK the Chile Marathon – known as the Atacama Crossing – is in the same format as the other three races – a 250km race run in six stages across the Atacama desert. Most stages are approximately 41 kms, the fifth stage is 73kms and the last stage is just 10kms. The Atacama desert is wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains and it is the driest place on planet earth. The 2009 race will start on March 29th.

The Chinese Marathon – known as the Gobi March – again 250 kms run in six stages – is located in western China, the ancient silk route. The 2009 race is to be run in the Xinjiang Province starting from Kashgar, the six stages take on a similar pattern. The 2009 race will start on June 14th.

Egypt – not surprisingly known as the Sahara Race – the Sahara is the largest non polar desert in the world and is bordered by Libya to the west, the Sudan to the south and the Mediterranean Sea to the north, there are only fives oases in this vast area (don’t get lost). The 2009 race will start on October 25th.

The final leg of these desert ultramarathons – cumulatively know as the 4 Deserts – is the Last Desert and is run in Antarctica. The 2008 race started on November 24th and will finish on December 4th – this includes transport from southern Argentina and moving around the Antarctic to the various race stage locations. We will bring you news of the results when the race is completed later this week. This race is only open to those individuals who have completed two of either the Atacama, Gobi or Sahara races. Only 30 people have been invited to compete in the race this year. We will update you on the date of the 2009 race when it is announced – but it is likely to be the end of November/early December 2009.

For further information on these races and for registration go to

Below is a brief video from racingtheplanet showing a preview of the Last Desert marathon on Antarctica.


Marathon history and one extreme marathon

November 26, 2008

Marathons – a subject close to the hearts of many people – those who have pitted themselves over distances from as short as 13.1 miles, a half marathon, to a full marathon of 26.2 miles and beyond to much greater distances. We give the history and will then present some of the more extreme marathons – just in case you feel so inclined.

History: The marathon  race  commemorates the run of the Athenian soldier Pheidippides who legend tells us ran from a battlefield near Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C., a distance of approximately 25 miles, bringing news of a Greek victory over the  Persians. Pheidippides collapsed  and died at the end of his historic run.

However there has long been debate about the accuracy of this story which we will not discuss here – save it to say that when the modern Olympic games were started in 1896 the marathon was the last event of the games and was fittingly won by a Greek named Spiridos ‘Spiros’ Louis in a time of 2:58:50 hours. The distance was not standardised until the 1924 games when atletes ran 26.22 miles, or 42.196 kms.

Extreme marathons: with over 800 marathons run every year there are a number of extreme versions. Most marathons come under the jurisdiction of the Association of International Marathons and Distance Runners. We will over the next few days give some examples of some of the more extreme marathons.

The Addo Elephant Trail runs: not strictly a marathon in the sense of distance as you can run a 100 mile, 50 mile or 25 mile route. The fifth running of this race will be held on Saturday 2nd May 2009. The 100 miler is run through the Addo Elephant Park, about 50 miles from Port Elizabeth, South Africa and winds its way over the mountains into the Sundays River Valley before crossing the escarpment of the Zuurberg Mountains to finish at the Addo Elephant Park main rest camp.You have to complete the race in 30 hours. The 50 miler and 25 miler routes are run in the same location.

The cost of entering the races varies – the 100 miler is 950 rand, the 50 miler is 550 rand and the 25 miler is 350 rand. For further details go to the website

Below is the schedule and we have included a vdeo from bradke – not of the race but of some of the ‘traffic’ you might meet as you run!


Friday, 01 May 2009

From 14h00:  Registration for at the Lapa, Addo Elephant National Park, Main Rest Camp.  Drop off bags to be taken to registration by 17h00 for distribution to the Checkpoint Captains. (Drop bags will not be accepted after 17h00)

Saturday, 02 May 2009

05h30:  Complimentary coffee/tea at the Kirkwood Hotel

06h00:  Start of the 100 Miler, 50Miler and 25Miler in front of the Kirkwood Hotel.

Sunday, 03 May 2009

06h00:  Cut-off of Silver Buckle, 100Miler.

12h00:  Cut-off of Bronze Buckle, 100Miler.  Finish of the 100Miler, 50Miler and 25Miler at Addo Elephant National Park Rest Camp.

14h00:  Prize Giving.